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Showing posts from March, 2011

Shelves of books

Our household is passionate about books.  We spend a lot of money of them and nowadays we avoid trips to places like Borders because our children are as keen as we are, and a mortgage repayment can be spent on new purchases.

Prior to our renovation we had four freestanding bookshelves, then of course, we included the massive built-in shelves as part of our renovation.  For once we have more shelves than books, but it is only a matter of time.

To reduce our spending, but not our enjoyment of reading, we go through bursts of library visits to load up on books.  We've also saved considerably on some purchases using Amazon; in particular obtaining a new release Australian book at about half the recommended retail price early last year, and another book at 75% of the recommended retail price.  The prices include delivery.  Delivery was much quicker than their "estimated" times.

I've since been put on to Book Depository in the UK.  There range of books seems to be less, but…

How to fence the chicken run

This afternoon we started refencing the chook run.  The chicken wire and star pickets were looking run down, with long grass growing through the wire and the pickets leaning in the sandy soil.

We're planning to get two more chickens so that we can have fresh eggs again. The first step is to build a secure day enclosure for them.  At night we'll lock them in the chicken house.

When ordering the posts I had them cut to size.  I'm going to use 900mm plastic trellis mesh, which will look neater and be sturdier than chicken wire.

My helper and I marked 900mm off on each post, and then dug the holes.  With our soil being deep grey sand, each hole took only a few minutes to reach 450mm depth.

We then used a spirit level to get each post vertical, rammed some sand around the base to hold it in position, and added half a bag of rapid set concrete and water.

One item that I'm missing is a gate.  Until I have the gate I can't put the second gate post in, nor finish the fence.

Refreshing the garden

With a long weekend upon us, it is time for a few odd jobs.

This morning I went to a garden supplies place on Boundary Road, near Pet Stock, looking for fence posts.  They directed me to Red Gum Supplies Co / Cypress Pine Timber Co on Governor Road, Mordialloc.  Theresa, one of the owners, gave us excellent service, selling us ten cypress fence posts and quick set concrete for about $210. They were delivered about lunchtime.

From there we went to Boundary Garden Supplies to buy two cubic metres of 10mm pine chips.  That cost $140 delivered, arriving at about 2pm.

So this afternoon we reinstated our garden edging and spread almost all the mulch.  The garden edging was ripped out when the new stormwater pipes were laid, and the garden itself was dug up too.  After a few hours of digging out the edging, leveling the garden beds and spreading the mulch, we are all exhausted and the garden is looking fresh and tidy.

Tomorrow we'll put the fence posts in - it will be a new, sturdier, fen…

Back to Ikea

Last Sunday afternoon we trekked to Ikea in Richmond.  We'd prepared by printing a shopping list from their website. Ikea was very busy when we arrived.

We were shopping for desks and chairs, for Mia and myself.  Although we had the warehouse information to directly collect our items we still trekked through the maze to see them assembled.  And I'm glad we did  - I quickly realised that the desk I'd picked from the catalogue was in fact too narrow for a widescreen monitor. I picked another desk, about 75cm deep.

We then trekked to the warehouse - and found that all but one item was out of stock.  To say I was annoyed is an understatement. I spoke to three staff in different places in the store about when they would receive new stock, and each person referred me to someone else at another desk.  I then gave up after figuring that they have no idea and probably weren't allowed to say so.  One did day that "the trucks from China hadn't arrived as planned".  …

Future plans: if only it was just a house extension!

If only the house extension was the end of it all.... Each day I can see all the other things we'd like to do.  The following is a list of future projects, in no particular order.

carportovenfridgedownstairs blindsother new pieces of indoor and outdoor furniturelots of landscapingwater tanksgrey water systemnew fence around the chicken runmore chickensdogrenewing the veggie patchnew drivewaypathsBBQ areasolar panelsswimming pool (perhaps a dream!)turf lawn.Please provide a comment about what's on your shopping list.  Great ideas might well join ours....

More replica furniture

On the Internet I came across Milan Direct and their replica furniture.

I have to say that their prices are by far the best we've seen.  For example, the Eames reproduction black lounge chair and ottoman for about $600, plus about $50 delivery, is half the price of the same chair in other replica furniture stores.

That's about the same price that I calculated I could get it for if importing it myself from a Chinese manufacturer, but using an American courier company.  I could save much more if I used China Post.

Suddenly a designer chair is back on the shopping list too - perhaps as a " very significant event" present in a future year.

Paved verandahs: don't forget their maintenance needs

With our verandah paved in a sandstone paver, we've quickly found that it needs to be frequently cleaned.  Two small children, a pet chicken and sandy soil are adding to its rapid griminess.

If we only had a nice lush green lawn, the problem might not be so bad.

The verandah has been a bit of a trial, with some "confusion" over its colour, a higher than expected cost to prepare and lay it, and now how dirty it quickly becomes.

But when clean it looks brilliant.

I went looking a high pressure water cleaners at Bunnings several weeks ago.  I was shocked to see how expensive they were - up to about $500 if I recall correctly.  I decided not to get one.

But the verandah still wasn't clean, and wet chicken poo is not easy to clean off.  A project that is rapidly getting closer is reconstruction of the fence around the chicken run so that it stays inside its area under the lemon tree.  We are also planning to get two more chickens.  But until then...

Fortunately, during the…

Four bar stools - how do you assemble them?

Our four bar stools arrived today.  Once dispatched yesterday afternoon from, we received an email with our tracking number.  I then logged into the Australia Post website, entered the number and our email address, and received updates  on my Blackberry as they worked their way through the Australia Post parcel system.

Tonight I opened the two mid-sized boxes.  Each box had the parts for two stools.  I then hunted for the assembly instructions; expecting the typical badly translated ones many of us have grown up with.  But not this time.  No badly translated instructions at all.

After some fiddling around I figured out all but one piece - a metal look plastic ring that by a process of elimination we determined was cosmetic, to hide where the central column and base meet.
Within 20 minutes we'd assembled all four, and after the children spent a few minutes spinning in the chairs, they were placed along the kitchen bench.  They look great.
In terms of quality, the…

Stool, storage, table: what else could you need?

At Relaxhouse we picked up two replica Philippe Starck Prince Aha (1996) stools for $49 ea, reduced from $69 ea. Matt Blatt sells them for $59 ea, but currently only in two colours.

They do remind me of the Caroma Utility stools (1967).  I grew up with one in our bathroom.

We've bought them as "cheap" side tables, to replace the stylish cardboard box we're using right now.

They will also function as cheap stools, particularly for children, and at a stretch, as somewhat impractical storage.

Bar stools

Last night we decided that it was time to get a desk and office chair for our study, because squatting on the floor at the computer is not great for our posture after a few minutes.  We tend to use our antiquated laptop because we can sit at a table!

When preparing a shopping list for Ikea (you cannot purchase online from Ikea), we checked out their bar stools.  They do not have much choice in swivel stools.  So I typed "bar stools" into Google and one of the first search results was the bar stools page at They had a 3 day sale on stools underway, finishing at midnight, with 15% off.

Even better was that they have a deal at present on stools just like those we looked at in Relax House. The deal was for two stools for about $90.

Some hunting around the site found that is based in Melbourne, near Springvale.

We did a quick search on reviews of and found that they were mostly positive on one site and mostly negative on anot…

McKinnon Heating and Cooling to the rescue

This morning I called McKinnon Heating and Cooling about our gas ducted heating not working. We've scheduled a maintenance visit for Thursday next week.

I also expained our airflow problems with the new ducting. Hopefully they'll diagnose what is required and help modify the ducting to fix the imbalanced airflow between the old and new parts of the house. I expect a follow-up visit will be required.

A heater with no heat

With another chilly day upon us, tonight I switched on our ducted heating for the first time since July last year.  And nothing happened.  Well, almost nothing.

After the usual warm up period, the spanner symbol appeared in the control panel and air did not come out of the vents. I could hear the fan.

Our heating and cooling was not part of our renovation project.  The ducted cooling works, but needs adjusting.  If you know a local ducted heating and cooling technician with experience with Brivis systems, then please let me know.